What has the group you are nominating achieved? *
The Green Grants Team distributes grant funding to schools and youth organisations across Newcastle and Northumberland. Some of the team have acted as panel members, assessing, considering and appraising applications for financial support from a wide range of youth groups and schools, and making the difficult decisions over how the Green Grants Fund should be distributed and invested into sustainability projects for young people across the region. All of the team members mentioned above have subsequently been involved in practically helping, advising and supporting these projects to get off the ground. Student leaders within the team such as Sofiyah and Sheila, have been responsible for organising tasks, undertaking risk assessments, working with school leaders to plan a timetable of varied tasks, and then recruiting, encouraging and enabling other students to get involved.
Other student volunteers in the team have put their considerable skills and commitment to good use within the projects, rejuvenating school wildlife areas, digging out and relining ponds, planting trees and creating pollinator-friendly spaces within school groups, and planning out new vegetable and fruit growing areas both outdoors and in new poly-tunnels alongside young people to revolutionize food growing across the area.
The group's enthusiasm and commitment has been exceptional - reaching hundreds of children and young people, teaching them about a wide range of environmental issues and solutions, contributing massive physical and environmental improvements to numerous school grounds across the area and reaching out from the University far and wide - from Berwick to Allendale! The impact on schools' awareness of Newcastle University, NUSU and Go Volunteer has been phenomenal, as it is rare that University students reach out into communities so far from Newcastle City. The team have acted as ambassadors for the University both to school staff and pupils, who may well become future Newcastle University students themselves one day.
This group of student volunteers deserves recognition for all of the skills and tenacity that they have brought to the project - some members are new to environmental work but skilled at working with young people, others are blossoming in their environmental expertise and have offered valued advice on pond renovation, soil suitability for wild flower areas, or food growing expertise. The opportunity for this team of volunteers to demonstrate and practice their skills in areas of real need has been a valuable experience for them, but even more importantly, has made a huge positive impact on the schools and youth organisations that they have worked with and benefited, and on the children whom they have been working alongside.
The Green Grants team have overcome several major challenges over the course of recent projects - from effectively matching availability of support teaching staff to availability of vehicles and volunteers in order to get the job finished within planned timescales, to planning out a safe plan for temporarily re-homing a massive pond full of frogs, newts and other wildlife whilst the team rejuvenated a wildlife area and re-laid a new pond liner. - ~500 words
What impact has this group's involvement had? *
The Green Grants Team members have demonstrated impressive leadership skills. The team leaders have coordinated groups of volunteers, school staff and pupils to work together towards a shared goal. Each Green Grants project is very different from the last, so they have had to learn effectively from one another, undertake extensive background research, work effectively alongside school staff and pick up expertise from local people and skilled craftspeople.
The team communicate very well between themselves and with the external partner organisations. This has been key to the projects' success. They have learned well from the challenges of previous projects, reflecting on the teams' experience, such as the difficulties of putting up polytunnels and the impact of weather conditions on certain tasks. This learning has been shared effectively and acted upon in subsequent projects.
The positive impact on the children involved in all of the projects is substantial and has had an extremely wide reach - across the reach of Northumberland from Berwick to Allendale, Mickley and Otterburn, and throughout central Newcastle. This group have presented an active, innovative, reliable and passionate image of Newcastle University students to many school-aged children and their teachers, parents and community volunteers. The fact that they've been willing to stay two hours late to get a task completed, or have gone the extra mile to work around when certain classes of school children are available to make sure everyone gets and equal chance of involvement and benefit is credit to them and the University. ~250 words
Summary of your entry *
The Green Grants Team have over the last 12 months provided a huge boost to rural and urban schools and youth groups - improving school grounds with outdoor learning areas, building food-growing spaces, creating wildlife areas and working with children and young people to share the importance of living life in a sustainable way. ~50 words